What are the defining characteristics of Manhattan-style clam chowder according to The New York Times?


Clam chowder is a popular soup in the United States, but it is not a one-size-fits-all dish. There are different styles of clam chowder, with Manhattan-style clam chowder being one of the most distinctive. According to The New York Times, Manhattan-style clam chowder has its own set of defining characteristics that set it apart from other clam chowders.

Origin of Manhattan-style clam chowder

Manhattan-style clam chowder is said to have originated in the early 20th century in New York City, specifically in the immigrant communities of the Lower East Side. Unlike New England-style clam chowder, which is creamy and white, Manhattan-style clam chowder is tomato-based and has a reddish color. Some say that the soup’s origins can be traced back to the Italian fish soups and stews that were popular in the area at the time.

What is Manhattan-style clam chowder?

Manhattan-style clam chowder is a tomato-based soup made with chopped clams, vegetables, and spices. The soup gets its distinctive color and flavor from the tomato base, which is usually made with canned tomatoes. The soup may also include other ingredients like potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Manhattan-style clam chowder is typically thinner than New England-style clam chowder and has a slightly tangy taste.

The debate over Manhattan-style vs. New England-style

The debate over which style of clam chowder is superior is a long-standing one. Those who prefer the creamy, white New England-style clam chowder argue that Manhattan-style clam chowder is too tomato-heavy and lacks the richness of cream. Those who prefer Manhattan-style clam chowder, on the other hand, argue that the tomato base adds depth and complexity to the soup, and that the absence of cream makes it a lighter and healthier option.

Key ingredients in Manhattan-style clam chowder

The key ingredients in Manhattan-style clam chowder are chopped clams, canned tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and spices. The clams are usually shucked and chopped, and the vegetables are diced or sliced. The spices that are typically used in Manhattan-style clam chowder include bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and black pepper.

How to make Manhattan-style clam chowder

To make Manhattan-style clam chowder, start by sautéing onions, celery, and garlic in olive oil until they are translucent. Add diced potatoes, canned tomatoes, and clam juice, and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add chopped clams, spices, and a bit of hot sauce, and continue to simmer until the flavors have melded together. Serve hot with oyster crackers or crusty bread.

Serving suggestions for Manhattan-style clam chowder

Manhattan-style clam chowder is typically served as a main dish or as a starter. It is often accompanied by oyster crackers or crusty bread, which can be used to soak up the soup. Some people like to garnish their soup with fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro, or with a dollop of sour cream.

How does Manhattan-style clam chowder differ from other chowders?

Manhattan-style clam chowder differs from other chowders in several ways. First, it is tomato-based rather than cream-based, which gives it a different flavor and texture. Second, it is typically thinner than other chowders, which makes it a lighter and healthier option. Finally, Manhattan-style clam chowder often includes a wider variety of vegetables than other chowders, which adds to its nutritional value.

The history of Manhattan-style clam chowder in The New York Times

The New York Times has a long history of covering Manhattan-style clam chowder. In fact, the newspaper has published dozens of recipes for the soup over the years, dating back to the early 20th century. The Times has also written about the soup’s origins and its place in New York City’s culinary history.

Contemporary variations on Manhattan-style clam chowder

In recent years, chefs and home cooks alike have put their own spin on Manhattan-style clam chowder. Some variations include adding bacon or pancetta for additional flavor, or using fresh herbs like basil or tarragon to give the soup a different taste. Others have added seafood like shrimp or scallops to the soup to make it even heartier.

Popular Manhattan-style clam chowder recipes from The New York Times

Some of the most popular Manhattan-style clam chowder recipes from The New York Times include Mark Bittman’s recipe, which uses fresh thyme and a splash of red wine vinegar, and Melissa Clark’s recipe, which includes pancetta and fennel. Other recipes from The Times include variations with corn, bacon, and even tequila.


Manhattan-style clam chowder is a soup with a rich history and a distinctive flavor. Its tomato base and variety of vegetables make it a lighter and healthier option than other chowders, and its origins in New York City give it a unique sense of place. Whether you prefer Manhattan-style or New England-style clam chowder, there’s no denying that clam chowder is a beloved American classic that has stood the test of time.

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Elise DeVoe

Elise is a seasoned food writer with seven years of experience. Her culinary journey began as Managing Editor at the College of Charleston for Spoon University, the ultimate resource for college foodies. After graduating, she launched her blog, Cookin’ with Booze, which has now transformed into captivating short-form videos on TikTok and Instagram, offering insider tips for savoring Charleston’s local cuisine.

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